An El Salvadorean gang member was among the migrants detained by the Border Patrol in the early hours of Wednesday, the agency said, as concerns remain about the number of people sneaking into the United States.
The unnamed 28-year-old was described by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as ‘a documented MS-13 gang member,’ Fox News reported.
The gang was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and then mixed with California prison gang culture and was exported to El Salvador. There are currently believed to be around 10,000 MS-13 members in the United States, out of 1.4 million known gang members in the country.
Donald Trump described the group, known for its savagery, as ‘animals’ and frequently referenced them when discussing migration.
The arrest of the MS-13 member comes days after the CBP issued a press release detailing the detention of two Yemenis on a terror watch list earlier this year, and will fuel Republican concern at the current influx.
A group of almost 200 migrants was found by the Border Patrol in Texas on Tuesday morning
A group of migrants is detained by the Border Patrol in Penitas, Texas, on March 27
Border Patrol agents are seen arresting people in Penitas, Texas, on March 27
The arrest was made on Wednesday when an agent from the San Diego sector was searching for ‘a group of illegal entrants’ in a mountainous area around 12:45am.
The agent spotted a half-dozen men ‘near the border wall’.
Four were from El Salvador, including the MS-13 member.
One was from Honduras, and another from Mexico. All were detained, and sent back to their home countries.
Migrants have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in higher numbers over the past few months, including over 170,000 people in March alone, the largest single-month total in well over a decade.
A large number are unaccompanied minors, which has forced the administration to open its tenth temporary housing facility to accommodate these young arrivals.
The vast majority of adults are immediately sent back to Mexico.
The border patrol say they are currently detaining around 5,000 people a day.
Members of the MS-13 gang are seen in prison in Izalco, El Salvador, in September 2020
On Monday the CBP announced that two unnamed Yemeni men on the terror watch list – one 33, the other 26 – had been detained over the last three months in the Calexico area of California.
The captures were made by CBP agents assigned to the El Centro Station.
CBP said in a statement on Monday that the two men were on a U.S. government watchlist for terrorism suspects, and were also named on a ‘no-fly’ list.
‘Part of the Border Patrol’s mission states we will protect the country from terrorists,’ said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino.
‘These apprehensions at our border illustrates the importance of our mission and how we can never stop being vigilant in our everyday mission to protect this great country.’
The news was seized upon by Republicans, who are using the current surge in migrant arrivals to attack Joe Biden, and who have always warned that terrorists could be among those entering illegally and evading detection.
The U.S. government does not release data on terrorist detentions along the border with Mexico: in 2018 the figure was given as six by Axios, and around a dozen by CNN.
A 33-year-old Yemeni national was one of two men who despite being on the FBI’s terror suspect list and ‘no-fly’ list were arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in California for attempting to cross illegally from Mexico to the United States
A 26-year-old man from Yemen, who is on the FBI’s terrorism suspect and on a ‘no-fly’ list, was intercepted by CBP agents assigned to the El Centro Station in Calexico, California, on March 30 after he tried to illegally enter the United States from Mexico
In January 2018, a joint report by the Homeland Security and Justice departments stated that Homeland Security had 2,554 ‘encounters’ worldwide with people on a watch list who were trying to travel to the U.S.
Of them, 2,170 were trying to come by air, with 335 by land and the rest by sea.
In 2019, Trump declared during a Rose Garden speech: ‘We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left.’
Migrants cross the Rio Bravo river to turn themselves in on March 30 in El Paso, Texas
A family from Haiti crosses the Rio Grande on March 30 to claim asylum in the U.S.
Todd Bensman, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors less immigration and stronger defenses against terrorist infiltration, estimated in 2019 that around 20 terrorist suspects are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border every year.
The first suspect, aged 33, was apprehended January 29 approximately at 1:10am local time after he tried to cross the border illegally about three miles west from the Calexico Port of Entry.
Agents discovered a cellular phone sim card hidden inside the insole of his shoe.
A second individual, 26, was picked up by agents on March 30 at approximately 11:30pm.
A CBP spokesperson contacted by DailyMail.com declined to provide the names of the men.
Migrant children play near the border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 2
Migrants board a van at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission, Texas, on Sunday
The government does not disclose how many people are on the no-fly list, although in June 2016 Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said that there were around 81,000 people on the list, of whom fewer than 1,000 were U.S. citizens.
Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, wracked by decades of civil war, is described by UN as suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Four million people have been forced from their homes.
A group of Republican lawmakers that visited the border in El Paso, Texas, in March said border agents told them during the trip that some people caught crossing the border were on a U.S. terrorism watchlist.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy traveled to the southern border March 15 and told reporters that after meeting with Border Patrol agents, he had learned that individuals with links to terror organizations were rushing the border.
‘It’s not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador,’ he said.
‘They’re now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they’re rushing in all at once.’
Republicans have criticized Biden for easing some restrictions put in place by the former president as the number of border crossings has risen in recent months.
The watchlist is maintained by the FBI Terrorism Screening Center.
The list contains ‘the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities,’ according to the FBI.
Overall, few migrants caught crossing the southern border match people on the FBI’s terror watchlist, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The libertarian CATO Institute said that from 1975 through 2017, seven people who entered the U.S. illegally from ‘special interest’ countries — states tied at least loosely to terrorism — were convicted of planning attacks on U.S. soil.
None crossed from Mexico. They came from Canada or jumped ship in U.S. ports, and all before special interest countries were classified as such.
The plots were foiled and no one was hurt.
The only known terrorists who crossed illegally from Mexico in those decades were three ethnic Albanians from Macedonia who came as children with their parents in 1984 and, in their 20s, were arrested in the foiled plot to attack the Fort Dix, New Jersey, Army base in 2007, the CATO study found. They were not from a special-interest country.
On Wednesday the White House defended Vice President Kamala Harris for having not yet visited the border, which she is supposedly overseeing.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday during the press briefing was asked about the vice president’s recent travel to Chicago, as opposed to the southern border. While in the Windy City, Harris visited a local bakery.
‘I would say the vice president was visiting Chicago to talk about COVID and the importance of communities getting the vaccine when it is available and accessible to them,’ Psaki explained.
‘While she was there, like many Americans, she got a snack. I think she’s allowed to do that.’